6 Tips for Encouraging Your Sales Team to Start Using CRM

When you have made the investment in a customer relationship management platform, the last thing you want is for it to go unused. Pushback from sales teams, however, is a very common problem with CRM implementation. “Resistance to change is a given in most CRM implementations,” says Chuck Schaeffer, Editor at CRMsearch.com.

Sales teams often harbor a misconception that CRMs are a waste of time, that the valuable time spent inputting data would be better spent in meetings or on the phone with customers working the sale. What they fail to see is how a CRM actually makes their jobs easier and helps improve their performance. “CRM systems actually help salespeople sell more, sell better and sell faster,” explains Cali Thomson, Marketing Director at Schill Grounds Management, a landscaping company in Ohio.

With a little effort, however, you can get your sales team on board with the new system and its new workflows. Here are six tips to help you ease them through this transition.

1. Show your Sales team the benefits of CRM

The first thing your sales team is going to want to know is what the CRM is going to do for them. In order to get through any walls they may have put up, you will need to show them the personal benefits they can expect from using the tool. Some of the key benefits you should stress are:

CRM automates reporting

Show them how a CRM means no more having to comb multiple spreadsheets to manually create regular reports. This addresses a common pain point for many salespeople, who are loathe to compile and submit reports.

CRM centralizes customer data

This includes contact information, notes, and sales history. Centralization makes it easier for sales teams to reference the information they need more quickly. Ask your sales team to recall the last time they lost that scrap of paper with notes from an impromptu customer call, and explain how inputting that data in the CRM eliminates that mistake.

CRM lets you set reminders for follow-up calls or appointments

Another pain point for salespeople is managing their calendars. CRMs help them do this more efficiently so they don’t miss appointments.

CRM creates more time for selling

At the end of the day, all of the benefits lead to the most significant of all — salespeople will have more time to spend actually interacting with customers and closing sales.

When showcasing the benefits of CRM to your sales team, it is crucial to speak to their pain points and specific challenges. Sean McPheat, CEO of MTD Sales Training, explains that “sales people do not realize that many of them miss out on following up with prospects, they forget crucial information and then using the data ongoing for marketing and farming purposes is a lot harder with incomplete or worse, no records.”

It’s important to demonstrate to them how a CRM solves these problems.

2. Include your Sales team in the CRM Selection Process

One of the reasons for resistance to a CRM is salespeople feel it is being forced on them. Instead of pushing a particular CRM tool on your sales team, involve them in the selection process if you can. This gives you the opportunity to capitalize on early buy-in from your team, which will improve the chances that they will actually use it.

Give them the opportunity to demo CRM platforms that you are seriously considering. A lot of companies will offer free, fully featured demos of their software — letting your sales team test the tools during a free trial period can ease some of the reticence they might have. What’s more, the trial might reveal user functionality and insights you may not have thought of.

So listen to your team’s feedback as you move through the selection process, and put them more at ease with the idea of a CRM by including them from the beginning.

3. Commit to ongoing training

CRM adoption will stall without proper training. If your sales team doesn’t know how to use the tool, they will get frustrated with it and refuse to use the system.

But training isn’t just a one-time meeting where you walk them through the program and then turn them loose to figure it out for themselves. Training requires vendor support and company-wide onboarding sessions. “You need an ongoing commitment to train,” says Richard Boardman, founder of Mareeba Consulting. “That is very difficult for organisations because invariably there is an expense to doing that. But it is essential.”

To do it right, start out by setting up weekly training sessions for a while. As your team grows more comfortable with the program, switch it up to monthly and then quarterly training sessions. Also, make sure your sales team has access to someone who can answer any questions they may have between sessions.

You can’t invest too much time in training, so make it a priority for CRM implementation.

4. Share success stories

Is there anyone in the company who was excited about the CRM and jumped at the opportunity to use it? If so, bring them forward to share their experiences and evangelize on behalf of the software. Have them demonstrate the little wins that a CRM creates — even something as simple as freeing up an extra hour each day by using the CRM to automate follow-up emails after an initial contact is made.

When onboarding is well underway, look for salespeople who are hitting or exceeding sales targets thanks to the efficiencies the software creates. Share their story in an email or in a meeting.

However big or small, any successes that you can demonstrate to your sales team will help generate buy-in.

5. Offer incentives to salespeople as they get started with CRM

Create incentive programs that motivate your salespeople to at least try out the software.

For example, you could run contests and reward the salespeople who have their pipelines on the CRM filled by a certain date or who log the most sales through the CRM. You could even sales team members based on how many information fields they fill in for customers or the number of contacts they add to the CRM.

These could be weekly or monthly contests, but keep in mind that the more often you reward the better, especially in the early days. Choose rewards that your salespeople would find motivating and fun. But try to stay away from cash, advises Rob Danna, Senior Vice President at ITA Group.

Why? Because people can be secretive or suspicious about monetary rewards. With non-monetary awards, however, salespeople will get to track their progress and show off their achievements, which can serve as a motivator to bring others on board. “With awards there’s an undeniable ‘trophy value’ behind the award that serves as an ongoing reminder of their hard work—and your dedication to them,” stresses Danna.

6. Don’t Be Shy About Compelling the Team to Use the Tool

It is possible that even after trying everything to encourage your salespeople to use the CRM, some may still resist. They may try to wiggle their way out of having to use the system, but you cannot give them that leeway. For the tool to fulfill its purpose, you need complete buy-in from everyone.

To achieve this, it may be necessary to set and enforce expectations with your sales team to give them no alternative. It’s a heavy-handed way to get them to use the tool, but if they are resisting your other efforts, don’t be shy about stressing that CRM use is mandatory, not optional.

To seal cooperation from your sales team, define the CRM processes as your new normal — but be sure to give them the resources they need to be successful with it. For example, Salesforce Trailhead is full of “get started” guides and resources for learning and understanding CRM.

You need your sales team on board with using the CRM for your business to benefit. It can be a challenge to get buy-in from all your salespeople, but to avoid failure you must make the extra effort to get them comfortable using the tool.


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